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April Fools Hoax in Creswick, 1873

Posted 31/03/2019 in History

Creswick was alive with mischief on April Fools Day in 1873, when some prankster played an impressive hoax on all the publicans in the district. Taking advantage of widespread dissatisfaction among the local publicans (regarding recent fines they had received for selling without a license), the unknown deceiver wrote letters to them all inviting them to attend a meeting on the 1st of April at Creswick's British Hotel to report their grievances before a commission. Even the president of the shire was invited to preside at the meeting. 

British Hotel building, Creswick VIC

On April 1st 1873, buggies and horsemen poured into Creswick, much to the astonishment of the townsfolk who were at a loss to account for the sudden rush of visitors. The president of the shire and a large number of publicans were assembled, the hour of the meeting came, and all began to cry "where are the Commissioners?". The hosts at the British Hotel did not know, nor did anyone else. The only clue was the mysterious "A.F." signed in red ink in the corner of the letters of invitation which had been distributed...

The following article was published in The Herald, Wednesday 2nd April, 1873:


All the Bonifaces in a District Hoaxed

The genius of fun and mischief has been latterly abroad in the shire of Creswick, and it culminated yesterday in as broad a joke as was ever, perhaps, played on All Fools Day. It appears that in the shire a license fee of £25 is imposed, which some fifteen or twenty publicans refusing to pay, were lately summoned and fined for selling without a license. Taking advantage of their dissatisfaction, some unknown wag, evidently well acquainted with the facts, conceived an idea, since successfully carried out, by Writing to Nearly Every Publican in the Shire, asking his attendance at a meeting to be held at the British Hotel, Creswick, yesterday, to give evidence before a commission there sitting to inquire into and report on their grievances, and finally soliciting the attendance of the president of the shire, to preside at said said meeting. 

Never was a bait more eagerly snapped at, for yesterday morning, from 9 until half past 10 a.m., the town was quite alive with buggies and horsemen, rapidly pouring in, much to the astonishment of the towns people, who were quite at a loss to account for this sudden interruption. By 11 o'clock, the hour fixed, the president of the shire and a large number of the genus Boniface (amongst whom were two buxom hostesses from Kingston) were assembled ; and now the cry was, "Where are the Commissioners?"

But here all inquiry was at fault. The worthy host of "The British" did not know nor did anyone else. No one there had heard anything of such a meeting previously and all seemed wrapt in mystery. At length some one with more brains than his neighbors, recalled to recollection on the letter sent him, in one corner, was a mysterious "A.F." in red ink ; and as it often happens that one discovery leads on to something greater still, so it proved here, for presently another of the party, who had been for some minutes severely scrutinising the missive he had received, made the startling announcement that It was All Fools' Day; that was what "A F" meant. The signature was only an anagram on April Fool and the speaker believed they had all been made fools of together. Such was indeed the case. Let us pass over the scene that ensued.

Vows of Vengeance

Could they but find the wag, accompanied by a wish from the ladies that they had the villain in their clutches for five minutes; then an adjournment for drinks, followed by a departure for home, and they all went their way, "not rejoicing," but sadder if not wiser men and women. - Ballarat Courier.




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